Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Photography- Eternal Realm of the Stratus City Dwellers

As we draw ever closer to Christmas, I can't help but think of what a truly schizophrenic society we have become. People out of work for months if not years, two ongoing and completely unnecessary wars, home owners evicted by banks who can't even produce the relevant paperwork, and yet, with all the camera equipment being produced, distributed and outdated before the change of every season- you'd swear technology, art and our economy were all moving at record pace, thank you very much.

The worlds of professional and fine art photography are everyday becoming more and more the domain of the Stratus City Dwellers, Troglites* need not apply. iphone or ipad, M9 or 5D Mkll? Light Room, cs5, hard drives, ink jets... Hell, I can't name half the shit because I don't even know what half of it does, let alone afford it. No, I'm not bitching about digital technology per se, I do realize that specifically in the professional world, it's often sink or swim when it comes to accepting and utilizing technology to the fullest. And yes, a few (very few) imaginative souls will somehow survive within their own low tech, highly imaginative niche. But where does this put the great majority of those not affluent enough to afford what have become technological and artistic (ie- financial) necessities- particularly those from minority backgrounds or developing countries so often seen in front of the lens?

And if I hear one more asswipe say he no longer has to pay for film...

* Stratus City- the realm of fair skinned intellectual and artistic elites who lived on the productivity of the Troglites who mined the netherworld below in the original Star Trek TV series.

7 comments:

colin pantall said...

No kidding - the democratic medium of film has been replaced by the financial tyranny of digital and all the expenses you mention.

Truth is you still can do all the same stuff on film as you used to be able to but there is a conspiracy to appear successful and up-to-speed with all the new technology - this is part of self-promotion and helps you get shows, publications etc.

So postings like this help break that conspiracy of silence - you are skint, I am most definitely skint (I can barely afford film - I definitely can't afford digital. But I do have free access to some nice scanners which I count my blessings for).

I think people should be more honest about the financial constraints of photographing and how photography continually favours the wealthy - the pretence that it is inclusive and anti-elitist is getting increasingly tiresome.

Stan B. said...

Thanks for the honesty, Colin. We really need a lot more people to emerge from this photographic closet. Although there's been quite a bit about how photographers have had to scale back and innovate to survive, rarely do you hear direct complaints about the continued cost of all these new toys. No one wants to be seen as a technological pariah- or someone who just can't afford the latest gadgetry. As if the latter implies a lack of imagination or incentive. Sometimes it does seem like a conspiracy of silence.

colin pantall said...

Just about every photographer I know is skint and has to choose between things like food and film/new laptops. Yet there is this illusion that everybody is successful and making heaps of money. It might be more of a North American thing - but we also have it in the UK.

The idea being that if you are poor, then you are a failure and less likely to get a show etc - which is probably true, so...

But I was having exactly this conversation the other week with somebody and it should be addressed. I think that photography should be returned to its rightful place in the money making hierarchy, just a touch below poetry I'm guessing.

And if it's documentary photography we're talking about, then just a touch above tie-dying perhaps.

Stan B. said...

I don't know if it's because it's embarrassing to admit one doesn't have the money to buy all the crap out there, or maybe photography has, in fact, already weeded out those who can't afford it. But dollars to donuts- this conversation begins and ends here!

PS- But in all honesty, Colin- I think documentary should be one notch above poetry, and the rest below tie-dying.

I HUSTLE AND OTHER THINGS said...

"skintelishes" i was only charged .17 cents for c41 film developing + scan at a big box store (i like those kinda conspiracies) - thank you Mary;) My skin is brown and i live in a small town.

Stan B. said...

And you're a poet & don't know it...

Mark Page said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Class Class Class.